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4 days ago
By motogp.com

Inseparable top three arrive at The Cathedral

The top of the championship continues to tighten, Rins, Lowes and Zarco all in contention as the year creeps towards the half way mark.

Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) took a well-earned victory in Barcelona, stalking rival Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) until the end of the race and blasting away into the distance. Back-to-back victories in Mugello and Montmelo have put Zarco right back in contention, only ten points off Rins in the lead. The French rider, along with every rider on the podium, dedicated the race to Luis Salom who lost his life on Friday of the Grand Prix. Salom and Zarco had raced together since 2007 and had many battles in the 125cc and Moto2™ World Championships.

Second in the race gave Alex Rins the Moto2™ Championship lead, heading to Assen with 116 points. Rins, Lowes and Zarco have all won races but have all also had tough weekends, no one able to gain a clear advantage in the three-way title fight.  Rins has twice finished on the podium in Assen in the lightweight class and took fourth place on his Moto2™ debut at the track. Since round four in Jerez the lead of the intermediate class has changed after each round, can Rins buck the trend?

Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was the last rider to hold the championship lead for successive rounds, but the Brit had problems in Barcelona and was unable to contest the podium. Fortunately for the Brit, he has a tendency to do well in Assen, taking third behind Zarco and Tito Rabat in 2015 and having crashed out of podium contention in 2014.

Barcelona marked a welcome return to the podium for Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), his first since Misano in 2015. With a best Moto2™ finish of 12th at the Dutch track, taking back-to-back podiums for the first time since 2013 could be a tall order.

After winning the Qatar GP, Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) has been unable to challenge for victory since. Luthi has twice finished on the podium at Assen during his 14-year career, taking third in the first ever Moto2™ race at the circuit in 2010. Since then the Swiss veteran has had a best finish of fifth at the Dutch TT, achieved in 2015.

While most other riders took a well-deserved weekend off, Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing) was at the 12 Hours of Portimao World Endurance event riding a Yamaha R1. The Portuguese rider arrives in Assen not only with his first endurance race done, but also with his first top ten in Moto2™ thanks to a great ride to eighth in Barcelona. Assen is one of only three circuits where he has more than a single podium finish, his most recent visit to the box coming after winning the 2015 Moto3™ race there.

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Highlights: Zarco wins 3rd race of season

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